How I spent a day in Singapore

When I planned a trip to Malaysia last year, I decided to head to Singapore for a short amount of time to check out the small city-state while I was in the area. Unfortunately back then I wasn’t the best travel planner and I should have allowed myself a bit more time given that I came to Singapore exhausted after a couple of days in Malaysia. I only gave myself one full day in the city, and two nights. I flew from Kuala Lumpur in the early morning, landing in Singapore around 11 am. The easiest route to my hostel — called Betel Box — was to take the bus. Unfortunately, as I tried to find my hostel from the bus stop, it started pouring rain, and even buying an umbrella at the 7-11 didn’t prevent me from getting soaked. The rain only lasted about an hour, however, so it didn’t prevent me from sightseeing later in the day.

The Betel Box hostel is a great bargain especially in an expensive city like Singapore. The 8 bed female dorm was only $16 per night (23 Singapore dollars). The room is very basic but it worked for only 2 nights, plus the price can’t be beat. The main downside to the hostel was the fact that it was a bit far from the metro station, but still walk-able — about 15 minutes. It also isn’t located in the city center, but it did have plenty of restaurants and a hawker stand right nearby. Hawker stands are a great way to eat cheap in Singapore. They are basically cafeterias, with different food shops selling various dishes. I liked Singapore chicken rice, so I got that a few times. There are also fruit juice and drink stands, and tables everywhere. The meals cost only a few dollars and the whole place was clean.

Some pictures from the hostel area (Joo Chiat Road):

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At first, I wanted to just rest in my hostel considering I was exhausted and wet, but then I realized I only had one full day the next day, so I decided to start the sightseeing. The first place I went to were the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Gardens, like everywhere else in the city, were very easily reachable by the metro. Singapore isn’t big so it isn’t difficult to get to tourist places by metro, plus everything is in English.

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I really enjoyed the botanic gardens and I didn’t even get to explore it all, as the garden is very very large and I was so tired from walking. They are completely free to enter with the exception of the National Orchid garden, which has a small fee, but I thought it was definitely worth it as the orchids are beautiful.

I was at the gardens until evening, where I headed to the Singapore Flyer. The Flyer is an iconic image of Singapore and I figured it would have a good night view of the Singapore skyline, which it did:

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The ticket cost 33 Singapore dollars.

After the Flyer I decided to call it a night as I was very tired. The next day, I planned to go to as many of the remaining tourist attractions as I could since I was flying out the day after.

My first stop the next day was Chinatown. Chinatown is a historic Chinese area of Singapore that is well known for it’s shopping and eating. Plenty of eateries and souvenir shops lined the streets, and while I wasn’t interested in eating or shopping at that point I found it a nice place to wander around.

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One of the streets contains the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, Sri Mariamman.

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On Mosque Street right nearby lies the Jamae Mosque.

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Also in very easy walking distance in the area is the Buddha’s Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.

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After Chinatown, I headed to Sentosa island, a resort island on the southern tip of the city state. I chose to go there because one of the ways to get there is to take a cable car. I thought that would be fun so I decided to do that. The ride was maybe about 10 minutes.

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I got off near the huge Sentosa Merlion.

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Sentosa has tons of attractions, ranging from Universal Studios Singapore to Madam Tussands to a butterfly park and various adventure parks. However given how tired I was at that time all I did was walk around the beach.

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The beach I went to is called Palawan beach.

I took the cable car again back into the city at dark. My plan was to then head to the famous Singapore night safari. However when I asked a man working in the subway what time the safari started, I was told that the night safari ran starting at midnight. So I planned to go then, and went back to the hostel. Once there, however, I found out that the safari actually closed at midnight. I’m not sure if it was a misunderstanding on my part or if the guy on the subway told me the wrong time. Unfortunately I couldn’t connect to wifi so I couldn’t figure out the error myself. By the time I found out about the closing time, it was too late for me to go. So I had to miss out on one of the things I really wanted to do, as I flew out of Singapore the next day. So I ended up just going to the Gardens by the Bay, but only to take a picture from the outside as I was just too tired to even think of exploring the inside.

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If it hadn’t been for that misunderstanding, though, I would have been able to do everything I wanted to do while I was there. I had about a day and a half, which isn’t too much time, but it’s possible to cover a lot of ground. Getting around Singapore is incredibly easy, and it’s small so not much time is needed. While Singapore is sometimes criticized for being boring or sterile, I thought it was interesting. The fact that there was a mosque and a Hindu temple located in a historically Chinese area showed the city-state’s history of diversity and peaceful coexistence of Malays, Chinese, and Indians. I don’t feel any burning desire to go back, but that’s partly because there are many other places that I wish to go to.

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